What’s really going on with Arctic sea ice?


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NDWGWziXGDI]

Scientists announced Friday that Arctic sea ice has officially reached its minimum extent for the summer, shrinking to 5.1 million square kilometers. That’s significantly higher than last year’s record low of just over 3.4 million square kilometers, a fact that has led conservative news outlets and even members of Congress to suggest that worries about global warming and melting ice are overstated.

But as astronomer and Slate writer Phil Plait explains in this video, these claims are “incredibly misleading.”

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This entire village moved out to make room for tigers


A month ago, there were 200 families living on one edge of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, pretty much right in the middle of India. But now there are zero families living there. They moved out. And the tigers — one tiger at least — moved in. Treehugger writes:

It didn’t take long before the village, now completely void of people, to be filled anew. A little over four weeks after the last human departed, Ramdegi is now home to herds of bisons, deer, antelope, and boars — grazing on the budding meadows that were once cropland and cattle farms. … According to the Times of India, even a tiger has been spotted prowling the grounds of the empty village, free from dangerous and often deadly conflicts with humans that have driven the species to ‘endangered’ status.

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This video explains almost everything you want to know about fracking


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uti2niW2BRA]

Still trying to figure out what the big deal with fracking is? Hydraulic fracturing — fracking for short — is the controversial process that has fueled the new energy boom in the U.S., making it possible to tap reserves that had previously been too difficult and expensive to extract. It works by pumping millions of gallons of pressurized water, with sand and a cocktail of chemicals, into rock formations to create tiny cracks and release trapped oil and gas. It’s been tied to earthquakes and has led to a number of lawsuits, including one that resulted in a settlement agreement that barred a 7-year-old from ever talking about it. At the same time, fracking has also created a glut of cheap energy and is helping to push coal, and coal-fired power plants, out of the market.

But for all the fighting about whether fracking is good or bad (and research…

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Harrison Ford crusades against climate change, illegal logging in Indonesia


Indy, the nuke-the-fridge incident is all but forgiven: International film star, astonishingly spry geriatric badass (71!), and environmental crusader Harrison Ford allegedly just got all up in the Indonesian government’s face about climate change and illegal logging. He was in the country filming an episode for Years of Living Dangerously, a Showtime doc about climate change planned for release in April 2014 (the flick also features Matt Damon and Arnold Schwarzenegger). From The Guardian:

The Hollywood actor Harrison Ford has been accused of “harassing state institutions” in Indonesia and threatened with deportation after allegedly confronting a minister during an interview about illegal logging and climate change.

The forestry minister, Zulkifi Hasan, said he was left shocked by Ford’s emotionally charged interview techniques and complained there was no time to go over the questions before filming began, local media reported.

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Is this a La Niña or El Niño year? Try La Nada


Meteorologists base a lot of their long-term weather projections on temperatures in the globally influential Pacific Ocean. But for more than a year the world’s most expansive ocean has been devoid of its famed El Niño and La Niña patterns — anomalously higher-than-average or lower-than-average bands of sea-surface water that help govern major weather events.

For now, the Pacific is stuck in a stubborn La Nada state: near-normal surface height and temperatures. Scientists say it could last into the spring, but that’s not so unusual: La Nada rules the Pacific about half the time. But it makes life difficult for weather forecasters, and it threatens to ignite unpredictably extreme weather. From NASA:

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Stay away from Australia if you want to protect the ozone


We’ve always felt a little bit bad for Australia and New Zealand, since they’re going to get totally screwed by climate change in all sorts of ways. But maybe we shouldn’t be so sympathetic. A new study shows that flights leaving from New Zealand and Australia create more ozone pollution than any other flights. Science Daily writes:

The results showed that an area over the Pacific, around 1000 km to the east of the Solomon Islands, is the most sensitive to aircraft emissions. In this region, the researchers estimated that 1 kg of aircraft emissions — specifically oxides of nitrogen (NOx) such as nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide — will result in an extra 15 kg of ozone being produced in one year.

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